Committee Starts Taking 2012-2013 Budget Requests

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During their first meeting on May 10th, the budget committee had gone over the estimated revenue for the 2012-2013 fiscal year (FY).  On May 17th, they met again to begin reviewing budget requests from the various departments.  

Present at the meeting were Budget Committee members Commissioners Mark Barker, Kevin George, Todd Hollandsworth, Kevin Mooneyham, and Clint Higgins, and citizen members James Adkins and Dr. Bill Jennings.  Commissioners Tony Neal and Russell Reed, and County Executive assistant Diane Hickman, were also present.

The budget committee began the meeting by discussing the Chancery Court budget. The differences in his budget from last year to this year were do to a maintenance contract for the computers increasing and asking for a salary increase for the Chancery Court deputy.  Concern was expressed that the latter represented an 18 percent increase.  Bryson explained that he has asked for a raise for the deputy for several years but has been denied.

General Sessions Court was discussed next. After review, it was reduced by the committee in the amount of $1050.  Commissioner George expressed concern that revenue from General Sessions fines were approximately $12,000 short of the year before. Several reasons for the shortfall were offered, with one suggestion by Commissioner Mooneyham being that perhaps bonds owed should be set at the amount that the offenders owe to the county in fines.  It seems that people often find money to make bond more often than they pay their fines.

Property Assessor Donald Preston explained to the committee that this year would be time for reappraisals. Normally, the state usually sends people to help with reappraisals, but will not be sending anyone this year.  This is causing a disadvantage in that his office is going to be doing it all and will need to work additional hours and part-time help to get everything into the computer in time. His office only employees one person besides Preston in an effort to keep down costs to the county. Postage will also be increased because everyone in county must be sent a change notice.   

The ambulance service employs 13 full-time and eight part-time employees. Director Ricky Cope explained that the heart monitor contract had increased somewhat.  Also there have been a lot of repairs to the ambulances this year, but hopefully a new ambulance can be purchased soon.  

Cope asked that they reduce the line item for postal charges by $900 and the line item for office supplies by $2500 and use $1500 to help pay the required Medical Director at the ambulance service because he is being used more now than was previously required by the state.  It would be a consultant fee.  

Revenues should be increased due to contracting with a billing service last April.  It was recommended to Hickman by committee members that the ambulance service should be in its own fund instead of under the general fund.  Cope also requested several capital outlay notes ... one for a new ambulance station, one for a new ambulance, and one for three new cardiac heart monitors.  The first, stated Commissioner Barker, is more of a long term goal.  

Commissioner Hollandsworth detailed his reviewal and research concerning the retirement of Dr. Leon Reuhland as Medical Examiner/ Coroner.  Doctors are unwilling to serve as coroners without compensation because of all of the calls to the sites when they already have busy hours.  It is now recommended to do as Warren County has recently done.  Dr. Thomas has agreed to be ME at a pay rate of $2,000 per year and $100 per call.  

He wants to attend the training, which is done in St. Louis, along with the ambulance director and one person from each shift.  The ambulance personnel who take the training will be Medical Investigators who assist the ME on the scenes.  If the county does not have a Medical Examiner, the state will force one on us, most likely at a much higher cost to the county.  It is a state mandate.

It was mentioned that County Executive Mike Gannon had sent out bids to see if banks will approve the bids for the two fire trucks and one ambulance which have been previously discussed and approved, along with bids for two police cars that have not as yet been discussed and approved.

Register of Deeds was reduced by $2,100 on their proposed budget. That office is also asking for an 18 percent increase for its deputy.

When reviewing the County Clerk's office, line item 161 for Secretary was discussed.  Committee members were informed that this line item was for taking notes at the meetings, but they were not sure if it was only for that. The conversation then covered offices that are Fees in Lieu of Salary, which all offices are with the exception of the County Clerk office. 

In the County Clerk's office, all fees are held and sent to the county quarterly except for the amounts used to pay the salaries of his deputies.  In offices that are Fees in Lieu of Salary, all fees are turned into the Trustee to be deposited in the general fund, and the salaries are paid from the county general fund.

Juvenile Court and Judicial Commissioners budgets were the same as last year. Cannon County SAVE's budget is funded by the litigation tax in General Sessions Court.

The remainder of the meeting centered around the shortfall in revenue. While they agreed that revenue was not as much as hoped, no one knew a solution to increasing revenue when most services are not profit-making in nature and are not expected to be.

Next Thursday at 6 p.m. the Budget Committee scheduled the proposed budgets Trustee, Circuit Court Clerk, County Executive, County Buildings, Library and Veterans for review and discussion.

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